Kevin Ian Schmidt

Safety Milestones Since the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

March 25, 2021, was the 110th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire – a tragic incident that elevated the workplace safety concerns of garment industry workers and workers in other manufacturing jobs to a point of no return. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire led to the creation of agencies and multiple reforms dedicated to workplace safety. Some reforms began in the days and months that immediately followed the fire while other reforms took years and decades to appear.
Oct. 14, 1911: The Founding of the United Association of Casualty Inspectors

The United Association of Casualty Inspectors was founded as a direct response to the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. According to ASSE, the organization started with 62 members. In 1914, the Association changed its name to American Society of Safety Engineers, and it still operates under that name to this day.

As of 2011, the Society states it has 32,000 members who “supervise and consult on safety, health, and environmental issues in industry, insurance, government and education.” ASSE also maintains multiple American National Standards Institute (ANSI) committees and projects. The initiatives of ASSE have helped businesses reduce costs by providing a safer workplace environment which, in turn, helps reduce workplace injuries that lead to downtime, workman’s compensation claims and higher turnover rates.

1911-1921: Worker’s Compensation Laws Take Off

New York state passed the first worker’s compensation law in 1910, according to EH.net. While the workman’s compensation model had long been studied by businesses, it did not have the support of Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, or a variety of other members (Department of Labor).

However, in 1909 the AFL switched channels and began to back the program. At the same time, companies like International Harvester had begun to create their own compensation models and supported laws that would ensure all companies, large and small, were supported. By 1921, 46 jurisdictions in the country had workmen’s compensation laws on the books.

1934: Voluntary Health Insurance Appears

A National Institutes of Health document titled “Voluntary Health Insurance on the National Scene: The Program of the Insurance Companies” dated the initial offerings of “experiments with group hospital expense insurance” as launching in 1934, which was right on the heels of the Blue Cross movement originating in 1929 (Blue Cross Blue Shield). At this point in history, group insurance plans could be issued to employers, unions and trustees of a welfare benefit fund.

1955: The Emergence of the Industrial Hygienist

According to EHSToday, a 1955 “Occupational Hazards” article chronicled that the previous 10 years had seen industrial hygiene become a major concern. Many companies and large businesses employed health technicians who assessed everything from cafeteria cleanliness to the common cold. Most health technicians did not have initial input related to safety practices within the manufacturing process, but some specialists like Fred Manuele, an ASSE Fellow (ASSE), state that by the end of the 1950s “a lot of good” practices were put into place.

1970: The Formation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA was launched in 1970 after several years of rising on-the-job fatalities and workplace injuries. Throughout its 40-plus years of existence, OSHA has worked to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for American workers. The Administration sets and enforces standards and also offers training, education and assistance to companies of any size. OSHA’s Free On-Site Consultation Program helps ensure even small businesses have a safe and product-healthy environment for their employees (OSHA Small Business).

Workplace health and safety has improved almost immeasurably since the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 through a mixture of business, government and organizational changes.

Company Culture

The term “company culture” is something of a nebulous concept, but most culture professionals can agree on the very basics of a definition. In short, company culture can be defined as a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterize an organization. A company’s culture influences results from top to bottom.
There are a few important components of a successful company culture, but many companies miss the mark on company culture by focusing on thee wrong things. Company culture is not:

Your core values – Core values are certainly part of your culture, but until you put them into action they’re just words on paper. In fact, core values can negatively impact culture if they aren’t adhered to. Employees will see this as the company paying lip service and failing to live up to its own standards.

Your perks and benefits – Ping pong tables and beer on tap can be great, assuming they represent what your employees really care about, but perks and benefits are not a substitute for strong company culture.

The yardstick by which all candidates should be measured – Hiring for cultural fit has become a hot topic over the past few years, but we’re already seeing companies shift away from this line of thought. Hiring people that align with your culture makes sense on the surface, but too many companies use this “metric” as a crutch. Many companies have pivoted to a “cultural add” model, wherein they look for candidates that align with the most important elements of their culture, but will also bring their own unique traits to the table.

At the deepest level, an organization’s culture is based on values derived from basic assumptions about the following:

  • Human nature. Are people inherently good or bad, mutable or immutable, proactive or reactive? These basic assumptions lead to beliefs about how employees, customers and suppliers should interact and how they should be managed.
  • The organization’s relationship to its environment. How does the organization define its business and its constituencies?
  • Appropriate emotions. Which emotions should people be encouraged to express, and which ones should be suppressed?
  • Effectiveness. What metrics show whether the organization and its individual components are doing well? An organization will be effective only when the culture is supported by an appropriate business strategy and a structure that is appropriate for both the business and the desired culture.

At the heart of organizations’ cultures are commonly shared values. None is right or wrong, but organizations need to decide which values they will emphasize. These common values include:

  • Outcome orientation. Emphasizing achievements and results.
  • People orientation. Insisting on fairness, tolerance and respect for the individual.
  • Team orientation. Emphasizing and rewarding collaboration.
  • Attention to detail. Valuing precision and approaching situations and problems analytically.
  • Stability. Providing security and following a predictable course.
  • Innovation. Encouraging experimentation and risk-taking.
  • Aggressiveness. Stimulating a fiercely competitive spirit.
 
Great article on company culture benefits: Reduce Employee Turnover With a Great Company Culture

Is safety a part of your workplace culture?  I’m not talking about throwing up a nice slogan, a couple fancy posters, and playing lip service to it, but true cultural safety.

Check Out: Improve Workplace Safety Culture 6 Steps

Consider the following elements of a safety culture:

 

  • Buy-in from all stakeholders. All employees, contractors, partners and other stakeholders, at all levels, must be committed to safety.
  • Processes for hazard prevention and control. All stakeholders should understand how to prevent and control safety hazards using best practices and workplace safety technologies. It is also important that each person knows that these processes are part of everyone’s duties.
  • Ongoing training. To keep knowledge and techniques fresh, stakeholders should attend regular safety training.
  • Successes are celebrated. Stakeholders should be recognized or rewarded for their commitment to safety.

When safety is a part of your corporate culture, every stakeholder recognizes its importance. It becomes part of your organization’s continuous process improvement. And, most importantly, it’s seen as an investment, rather than a cost, since proactive safety measures have the power to save significant amounts of money, time and other resources.

It is very important to build and grow a safety culture, not just within your company’s overall culture, but as an overall culture of safety. Do you know how? Do you struggle with your safety culture?
Check out this good read: Leadership: How to Build an Ideal Safety Culture 
As you work to build a culture, and you’re looking at incorporation of the culture, look at every job, every responsibility, and see how the different aspects of the culture can be worked into each job, every task, and touch all parts.
A great example is this article: Incorporating Safety Management Into Your Project Management Role 
While looking to build a great culture, as much as I wish that it started and ended with safety, it has so much more importance. Also understand about making a culture of ethics and compliance. How Managers Create a Culture of Ethics and Compliance 

Accident Investigation: Root Cause Analysis

Over the years, managers and leaders have written thousands of articles about the very complicated causes of accidents in the workplace. The consensus of opinion is that there is not normally one single cause of an accident or an incident. Instead, there are normally a combination of factors that contribute to the accident. These all come together under just the right circumstances to create an accident. Management thinking has moved on from the proposition that accidents just”happen.” But this has been replaced with a culture of blame.

The problem of accident causation and prevention appears to be a hugely complex problem. However, some industries have proved beyond doubt that it is possible to prevent or control the causes of accidents. For most industries, it doesn’t require huge resources to be successful in preventing accidents and incidents.

To better understand the circumstances that give rise to undesirable incidents, it would be wise to consider the four major elements that provide the source of accidents in the workplace.

Elements of a Root Cause Analysis

The first element is people. This includes everybody from the workers upwards. Its been well established that people are involved in a high percentage of incident causes. Normally, it’s the staff member that is the human element directly involved in an undesirable incident. What they do or don’t do is seen as one of the most common causal factors.

The second element is equipment. This includes tools and machinery. Since we have been using tools and machinery, they have been identified as one of the major causes of incidents and accidents. Because of this they have been targeted by legislation that has made provision for machine guarding and training. The improper design of controls on machinery and equipment are frequently found to be the cause of many incidents related to safety quality and output.

The third element is material. This is the stuff that people work with. Material can be sharp, heavy, hot or even toxic. Coming in contact with such things as explosives, chemicals such as solvents, dusts and noise can be a substantial source of undesirable incidents.

 The fourth element is the environment. This is all parts of the physical surroundings and include such things as the quality of air, lighting, heat, cold, humidity, fumes and even moisture. Increasingly, the environment is being identified as the cause of an ever-increasing number of diseases and health related conditions. It is associated with absenteeism and low work quality.

Check out additional components of an Accident Investigation Program

These four elements, to a greater or lesser degree, provide the source of causes that contribute to an undesirable incident. The investigation should include a scrutiny of one or all of these factors to pinpoint the cause of the incident or accident.  

If you are looking for assistance with completing a root cause investigation, I made a book to help you out, check it out on Amazon here

 

View & Download the Accident Investigation: Root Cause Analysis Training below

Accident investigation_Root_Cause_Analysis

Linkedin profile tips and Job search

With the advancing world, how we live and work is constantly changing. Many industries that used to be labor-run are now automated, so working in a leadership position in any industry now is not how it used to be. There are many jobs that have become common due to the popularity of the internet, creating more job opportunities. The vastness of job opportunities and modern take on the job descriptions of many posts has made job searches around the world both more difficult and easier at the same time. The latter is because of the number of jobs available, while the former is observed because finding the right job between all of these opportunities becomes difficult. In fact, job searching is now a talent in itself.

LinkedIn is a service that serves simply as a Facebook for professionals, as many already call it. How it works is that any individual or organization can share their professional details online on a well-organized site that categorizes each type of experience, capabilities, and employment details. This serves as an online CV of a kind since many employers look at the LinkedIn profiles of people that they might employ.

While making it easy to look for jobs, LinkedIn also allows employers to research their potential employees and helps organizations and professionals connect with one another more easily.

This article will cover the job searching factor of LinkedIn, discussing how the service helps people look for jobs to find something that they are interested in and that they are suitable for, but first, let’s discuss how your LinkedIn shows how you are suitable for where you’re applying.

LinkedIn Profile Optimization

LinkedIn is a site with over 337 million professionals, making it one of the top networks for professional development as well as job searching. However, with all this traffic, it is difficult for an individual to stand out for any job. How you can assure this for yourself is by optimizing your LinkedIn profile to maximize your chances of successfully landing a job, which includes being able to build a powerful presence by making the most of its features and sharing your expertise.

Sharing All Your Necessary Professional Details

If you look at LinkedIn as an online, customizable CV, you will understand that adding information about yourself on this site will clearly be beneficial to those evaluating your profile. Completing and adding details about your employment history, including your current position, past positions, capabilities and skills, a professional picture of yourself or your industry, your education information as well your current industry and location makes for a LinkedIn profile that really sells itself.

Adding to all those details, you can also make your LinkedIn profile stand out by selecting a proper URL for yourself, which is SEO friendly as well as easy to remember. All of this is the basic information any user has to add for their profile to stand out.

Sharing Your Purpose

An excellent way to land a job is by fueling any chances to stand out in a recruitment search. The number one way to catch the eye of any recruiter to finally end that long job search of yours is to make your purpose clear.

Now, your purpose may be as simple as ‘looking for a job’ or can be tailored to explain with accurate detail what your purpose in the industry or for job searching is. Again, the latter can be simplified to a simple reason where one tells the type of job they’re searching for.

Recommendations

Getting recommendations from your peers is important. LinkedIn maintains and keeps these recommendations online, sharing them with professionals only. The peers that you get recommendations from may be one of your customers, colleagues, employers or people working for you.

Adding Skills

As stated before, this is a part of completing one’s professional profile on LinkedIn. Adding details about skills is much more sophisticated and professional on LinkedIn than just simply writing skills. Once you write about these skills, your peers and work group are sent a confirmation regarding this and the skills that are verified by people are known as endorsements.

Endorsements are very important for your LinkedIn profile as they show what skills you are known for, which would give the right impression to the recruiters as to why you’re suited for a job, hence making your job hunt easy for you.

Your Summary

We can look at this part of the LinkedIn profile as the very professional and influential counterpart of Facebook’s description. It has to be a precise summary about an individual’s professional life, what they have accomplished and what they have set out to accomplish. The summary can be about 200 characters long and is important for your profile to stand out, so be sure to write a precise and impressive summary that will catch the attention of recruiters.

Links to Relevant Websites

Add links to the websites of the organizations you work for, blogs you write, or any pages or publications that are relevant to your professional life. Editing these and adding in the right keywords for these sites is important too since it gives a good impression and helps recruiters browse through your online profile.

Order and Arrangement of Your Linkedin Profile

LinkedIn allows one to customize their profile considerably for ease of use and so that you may note down and showcase your accomplishments and abilities as best you can. One of the features that LinkedIn offers is the option to change the order of your profile to however you want it to be; the sections can be rearranged and suited especially for your professional profile. Rearranging the profile is easy too since all you require is a simple click-and-drag action to change the order.

Use Specific Keywords

What will help recruiters and potential connections find you is the use of precise and to-the-point keywords that you add to your profile. These have to be eye-catching and serve to give off a good impression. Another benefit that specific and catchy keywords provide is to search engine optimize your profile. The more relevant keywords you add, the more chances are of you to pop up on a Google search. This will help you end your job search by bringing organizations to you.

Add the Specifics

Writing about the projects you’ve worked on, the awards you’ve won, the causes you care about, and the places you’ve volunteered at will help brighten up your profile significantly. This will be the final touch to your profile and would help with your job hunt more than you think.

The causes you care about and the places you’ve volunteered at help describe how you are as a person and matter in the profile you’ve created for your job hunt.

Linkedin Job Search

Once your LinkedIn profile has been created and optimized to ensure you get some views every day or simply pull in a good audience, your job search will be made much easier since it increases your chance of getting selected by a lot. However, just optimizing your profile like this will only serve to increase your chances and raising the possibility of ending your job search altogether. Searching for a job yourself is a whole other story which requires patience and a very thorough approach.

This section of the article will cover how you can search for the jobs you are suited for so that you have a higher chance of landing one.

Check Out: Job Interview Ultimate Guide

Headline

After optimizing your profile and making sure all of your professional details are filled in and optimized for organizations, including a headline about your current job search status will let employers find you and scoop you in. However, this is very much a challenge, and although adding a catchy headline would draw in a number of views to your profile, if your profile isn’t edited to stand out, the headline won’t help with your job search at all.

Following Companies

LinkedIn offers more than just pages of individuals. This site with over 337 million professionals helps by making pages and details about companies themselves. These pages can be followed and it’ll be in your best interest to do that since that way, you’ll be up to date with the current events of every company while updating you if any of these companies is searching for people to recruit. This is a major step in your job search as your target companies will be right there for you. Thus, you can research about them as well as keep yourself up to date about any opportunities that arise.

Connect

While you’re searching for your job, a lot of things factor into finding just the right job. One of the most important steps you should follow is to increase your connections as much as possible and as soon as possible. After creating a good account, showcasing your abilities, getting recommendations and following companies, it’s very important to connect with as many individuals and organizations as possible. Remember that this will help you connect further with other people and all of these connections will be helpful for your career at more than just one point in your life.

I am always open to connecting with people on LinkedIn, here is my profile

So what this basically means that although LinkedIn profiles help showcase your skills and connect with people, nothing helps more than promoting yourself in person among your peers. So watch out for the people that can be of use to you. Keep a look out for well-known companies that you can work for or new and rising companies that you can help promote both in person and on the internet. As we mentioned before, this site is like a Facebook for professional connections, so even though making new connections through LinkedIn itself is efficient, it’s better to connect with people you have worked with, people you have worked for as well as the people working for you since you know their capabilities well and they know yours.

Contacting Peers

Once you have made connections, contacting them through LinkedIn is also easy since the site offers the option of messaging your connections privately. With a fully functional instant messaging option, you can manage your work optimally.

This feature also helps with job searches as you can contact many companies and individuals regarding your job directly through LinkedIn and keep track of the available positions and their current state.

 

Conclusion

A lot of things factor into a successful job search, including your achievements and capabilities, but what bears fruit in your job search is not the achievements themselves but how you showcase them. Adding what you learn from any experience and the skills you have learned throughout your personal life that will affect your professional life, pinpointing certain strengths, and using precise keywords will ensure that your LinkedIn profile is search engine optimized, which will, in turn, ensure that your profile pops up on searches on Google and other search engines whenever a search about a particular keyword is made.

Adding to that, completing your profile is necessary with the summary, causes you care about, recommendations, and the entirety of the sections listed above so that your profile provides all information to any recruiter. The advantage this gives you is significant and it can factor into your job search well enough for better job opportunities.

In conclusion, the jobs out there are numerous, but ironically, finding jobs – especially the right one – is really an issue many of us face. In fact, job hunts of even the most capable of people bear no fruit until they finally catch their big break, so LinkedIn is a service that comes in very handy. Keep all of the tips mentioned above in mind, keep seeking opportunities and stay vigilant in your job search because on LinkedIn, the right job is just a few clicks away.

Effective Communication Skills: LISTENING

An important aspect of enhancing one’s communication skills is becoming a good listener.

People tend to place the emphasis on speaking as the most important aspect of communication, but this is not necessarily so. Breaking down the percentage of time spent throughout the day for an average

person engaged in one of the four aspects of communication:

  • Listening-42%
  • Talking-32%
  • Reading-15%
  • Writing-11%

The reality is that the majority of people only listen for approximately 25 percent of the time. And in many cases, most people only listen to the first couple of words from a speaker before starting to formulate a response in their minds. There is a distinct difference between listening and hearing.

Merriam-Webster (1994) describes “hearing” as: “the process, function, or power of perceiving sound” (pg. 346).

Merriam-Webster (1994) describe “listen” as: “to pay attention in order to hear” (pg. 433).

The key to becoming a better listening is to stop simply hearing what someone is saying and to start listening to what is being said.


The following are some suggestions for becoming a better active listener:

  • Do No Interrupt.

To become an effective listener, wait until the speaker is finished before providing feedback or expressing opinion. People have a tendency to become impatient while listening and cannot wait for the speaker to finish. Not only is this rude, but it will drastically limit the information exchange and damage the communication process.

Check Out: Effective Communication Skills – NONVERBAL
  • Do Not Jump to Conclusions.

Do not assume that you know what the speaker is going to say. People can process information faster than one can speak (up to three times faster). For this reason, one might start formulating a response before receiving all the necessary information. This can lead to confusion and poor response on behalf of the listener.

  • Do Not Judge the Speaker.

Do not allow ones opinion of the speaker to interfere with the message being received. The speaker’s accent, speed of delivery (talks too fast or too slow), appearance, and age are just a few factors that can create bias and limit effective listening. Concentrate on the content of the message, not on the speaker.

  • Take Notes to Hold Interest.

Not only is taking notes a good way of retaining information for a later time, but it also helps the listener maintain interest, shows the speaker that you are paying attention, and helps eliminate distractions.

  • Ask Questions.

Asking good questions, paraphrasing, and providing feedback are essential to good listening. This will help one listen more carefully and will also strengthen the relationship between the speaker and the listener. Good listeners play an active role in the communication process including head nodding, eye contact, and asking questions. Some rewards for becoming a good listener include “expansion of knowledge, vocabulary development and language development, ability to evaluate messages, passing examinations, saving time, accruing financial benefits, and short-cutting acquisition of knowledge. This will also help in the areas of public relations, investigations, and crisis/emergency management situations.

By using these listening suggestions, practicing them, and putting them into action, the security officer can maintain an open line of communication and will be better able to obtain sufficient information for reporting to supervisors and preparing for investigations. The security officer will also be able to gather this information while continuing to project a professional image on behalf of his or her employer.

How important do you feel listening is as part of effective communication?

Effective Communication Skills: NONVERBAL

Another aspect of effective communication is a basic understanding of body language. Studies have shown that more than 50 percent of a spoken message’s meaning can be determined by nonverbal gestures. It is claimed that only 15 percent of what is said is verbal and at least 85 percent of interpersonal communications are nonverbal.

For this reason, it is important for the speaker and the listener to be aware of three important characteristics and principles of nonverbal communications.

First, most nonverbal communication is automatic and unconscious. This means that it is essentially more difficult for the speaker and the listener to control their nonverbal responses than their verbal ones. It is because of this factor that most people will place more emphasis on the meaning of nonverbal clues as opposed to the actual spoken message. It is equally important for the speaker to be aware of their own body language in order to make certain they are conveying the message without contradiction to the verbal message.

Second, if there is an attempt by one person to deceive another with words, there will likely be a conflict betrayed by leakage of nonverbal cues. This means that a false statement provided by the speaker will likely be accompanied by a nonverbal cue, or nonverbal leakage, which actually represents the truth. One should also be aware of a conscious effort on behalf of the speaker to suppress nonverbal responses. For example, if one attempts to control their facial expression while providing a false statement, one might unconsciously display the truth through nonverbal expressions of the hands or feet.

The third characteristic to consider is that different types of nonverbal cues are usually interconnected and congruent in manifesting the same attitude or emotion. This is how two different people listening to the same story can come to the same conclusion despite paying attention to different types of communication cues. One might be more aware of the tone of voice of the speaker, while the other pays more attention to the visual cues, yet both interpret the same meaning of the message.

The following are some examples of nonverbal cues to be aware of for improving ones effective communication skills:

  • Eye Behavior

This includes eye contact, tears, and pupil dilation. Eye contact can signify a willingness to listen and truth (direct) or avoidance and deception (no contact or very little contact.) Tears can indicate a wide variety of emotions, but most importantly, they tend to indicate the strength of the feeling. The dilation of pupils can be a good indicator of alarm, excitement, interest, and satisfaction. Conversely, the contraction of pupils can represent lack of interest, boredom, or tranquility.

  • Facial Expression and Head Movements

The human face is capable of expressing more than one emotion at a time. However, the mouth of the speaker is more restricted than the eyes. There are different degrees of smiles, different degrees of spontaneity of smiles, and different degrees of congruity with the expression of other parts of the face, particularly the eyes. Because of this, it is very difficult to interpret the movements of the mouth and their meanings. One should seek additional training opportunities to become proficient in this area. Head movements such as up and down, which normally indicates agreement, or back and forth, which normally indicates disagreement are common. These movements can be very subtle during conversation, but can be very helpful in determining attitudes.

  • Shoulders

Shoulders can be a good indicator of stress. As tension begins to rise, so will one’s shoulders. Conversely, as one becomes more relaxed, so will the shoulders

  • Arms and Hands

Arms folded across the chest, animated talking with arms and hands, trembling or fidgety hands, fidgeting with an object while speaking, playing with hair, clenched fists, and pounding the table are just a few of the many indicators with arms and hands. Most of these will be self-explanatory to the observer and will likely provide the bulk of the nonverbal cues within a conversation.

Check Out: 5 Nonverbal Indicators in Interviews

These are just a few examples of nonverbal cues for the security professional to be aware of when conducting an interview or simply carrying on a conversation within the normal scope of duties. It is very important to keep in mind the different personalities and different cultural beliefs one might encounter when interpreting nonverbal cues. Do not jump to conclusions and be certain to take in the whole picture before making an evaluation.

 

Job Interview Ultimate Guide

A job interview is obviously something that must occur when seeking a job as a security guard, and many people get very stressed out over a job interview. This job guide will help you relax and be prepared for the interview.

Major Considerations During a Job Interview

Make a Connection with the Interviewer

Depending on how popular or sought after the job you are interviewing for is you will have a lot of competition for a few positions. A stellar interview is crucial to make you stand out from the rest of the crowd. To give yourself an added edge and cement yourself in your interviewer’s mind, try to make a personal connection with them at some point in the interview.

A personal connection can take numerous forms. If you are in the interviewer’s office and they have a picture of a sailboat on their wall (and you happen to love sailing), make an appropriate comment that identifies you as a sailor too. This may not put you above others more qualified than you but it will help you to stand out amongst those you are in direct competition with.

Take your cues from the interviewer, if they seem uncomfortable with relaying any personal information or are not comfortable veering off topic then follow their lead. If a personal conversation does develop, let the interviewer guide it. When they bring it to a close and either get back to the questions or say good bye, leave it at that.

At the end of the day, interviewers want to hire people that are qualified and who will fit in with the rest of the team at the company. If you can make a connection and have the right skill sets you will be giving yourself a better chance than someone else. You will also help the interviewer recall who you are and stick out in their mind as that candidate who knew a lot about sailing.

If you are not comfortable with discussing personal topics during an interview, don’t feel that you must go out of your way to do so. At the end of the day, your qualifications are what you should be highlighting.

How Effective Leaders Use Positive Reinforcement For the Greatest Effect

Pauses and Silences are Okay

There are going to be a lot of periods during an interview when there are going to be pauses in conversation or flat out silence. This can be initiated by you or the interviewer and in most cases either is not an indicator that something isn’t going good.

You can ask for a moment to think of an answer and during this time there is most likely going to be complete silence. This is fine and perfectly normal, don’t get distracted because no one is talking, use the time you have asked for wisely and think of the best answer or example you can give.

If the interviewer is taking notes (and most likely they are), be comfortable with the fact that there is going to be pauses in between questions and they try and write everything down. This is actually a good thing because it means they have liked what you have to say and want to remember it when they are later making a decision on who to hire. Don’t feel the need to fill this space, let them continue writing and wait for the next question.

If you have answered a question and it is met by silence and the interviewer is not writing anything down, you may be at a loss as to what you should do. It could signal that the interviewer is expecting more information or they are not satisfied with the answer. You won’t know unless you ask, “Do you want me to elaborate on that?” If the answer is no, just patiently wait for the next question to be asked.

Don’t worry that the interviewer is not praising you on your answer to each question and continue onto the next one. They do not want to give you an indication of how you are doing during the interview and are trained to be neutral when responding to answers, if the respond at all.

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Procedural Questions

Procedures are a part of life, especially in the working world. Each company has their own set of policies and rules that they expect their employees to follow. An interviewer is going to ask questions to determine if you would do things they way they want (for instance making a sale or handling a customer complaint). Without training, you will not know with any degree of certainty how the company would want you to handle different situations but there are ways to answer that can increase your chances of getting the job.

What an interviewer is looking for in an answer is your philosophy towards circumstances that occur in the company. Your natural instincts and personality is going to come through at some point no matter what you have been trained to do. Questions like, “How would you satisfy a customer if they wanted to return something after the return policy has expired?” can be tricky to answer. The best way to answer them is to begin with saying, “Of course, if hired I would abide by the company’s guidelines – but in this circumstance I would…”

By starting your answer with this phrase you are showing that you recognize a company is going to have its own policies and ways of doing things and that you are flexible enough to modify your way of doing things to align with those processes. Even role playing scenarios for are a test to see if your way of thinking is in line with the
company’s. This genre of question can backfire on you though if your answer is completely opposite what the company is looking for. If you have done your research on the company prior to the interview you should have a good idea of how they handle customers and sales in general.

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Answers Should be Thorough but to the Point

If you love to talk and when you are nervous can go on and on, or if you are the opposite and clam up when you are in a stressful situation – you need to be conscious of this and not do either in an interview. When asked a question, an interview wants enough information that will help them understand what you are talking about, but not extraneous irrelevant information.

If you are answering a question using an example from your previous or current job and there is a lot of jargon or acronyms – try to use more a common place term that people are familiar with or explain what you mean in the beginning. If you are asked to describe a time when you lead a project – explain what the project was about, how many people you managed and any key points that demonstrate what a great job you did. What you don’t want to do is get side-tracked and give details that aren’t relevant to the question. The interviewer is not going to be interested in a play by play of the entire project – they want to know your role in it.

Keep on topic; take a moment before answering a question to organize the details in your mind. You don’t want to start answering, get sidetracked and forget the point you were trying to make. If you stay on topic and know what you are going to say, you are going to be able to keep the interviewer’s attention.

If you are a person of few words, practice with a friend or family member before your interview. Learn how to expand your answers so you give thorough information without living the interviewer wanting more. But if you are in doubt, less is better – an interviewer will ask follow-up questions if necessary.

Using Social Media in Investigations

Ask the Interviewer Questions

Okay, you have made it to the end of your interview and the interviewer says it is now your turn. They want to know if you have any questions for them. And most likely you do: “How did I do” and “Are you going to hire me” – unfortunately you can’t ask either one. But there are questions that you can ask to glean some information on how you performed and to determine if the company is a right fit for you.

Although it is not acceptable to ask how you did in an interview, it is okay and encouraged to ask what the next steps are and the timeline for them. Depending on how this is answered, you may be able to figure out their reaction to you. But this is not full-proof and is not a guarantee. If they take the time to explain all the checks they need to go through, how many people they have left to interview and so on, they are probably interested and want you to understand that there is still steps left in the process. If they only tell you that you will hear from them within a certain period of time via letter, well it isn’t as promising.

Look at the opportunity to ask your own questions as your chance to interview the company. Of course you have done your research prior to attending and have made up a list that you wrote down before attending. Show your preparedness and pull out the list to ask your questions. Things like company direction and expansion show an interest in the business. Feel free to take notes; it can earn you brownie points. Ask questions that are important to you as well, if vacation time and benefits are a deal breaker for you, find out now what the company has to offer.

EHS professionals ignore employee health

Quit Ignoring Employee Health

In the current world, with COVID, many EHS professionals find themselves talking more and more about employee health, being in charge of health aspects of employees that they never considered part of their jobs.

This is a great time  to talk about the H in EHS.

As EHS professionals, we all know our responsibilities in environmental and safety, but often overlook the health aspect of the job. Sure, some say “health” falls in line with “environmental” and “safety”, because it is all about the health of an employee, but I think we should do more for the “health” of employees. Because if we drive health as part of our total strategy, it can actually improve workplace safety in the long run.

Does this mean we should be talking about gyms and how to workout? No. We don’t even need to reinvent the wheel, because many companies already have programs that we can utilize and champion for employee safety.

How many EHS professionals can talk of their company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which can offer things such as:

  • Fitness, Nutrition, Weight Loss Programs and Incentives
  • Health and Wellness Resources
  • Stress Management Assistance
  • Parenting and Family Issues
  • Elder and Child Care Resource Locators
  • Personal Finance and Education
  • Retirement Planning Assistance
  • Debt Counseling and Debt Restructuring
  • Wills, Forms and Legal Templates
  • Legal Information
  • Stress, Grief, Depression and Trauma Counseling Services
  • Mental and Behavioral Health Counseling Services and Assistance
  • Domestic and Workplace Violence Resource Center
  • Tobacco Cessation
  • Alcohol, Drugs and Substance Abuse Counseling Assistance

These sort of things can help employees deal with the stress, pressure, and issues going on in their personal lives, which can lead to issues at work.

If someone is stressing about financial issues at home, they can be distracted, which can lead to an injury.

So as EHS professionals, why do we so often, let HR drive these programs? Why do we allow these programs to be talked about once in awhile?

Why are we not the champions for a program like this? It clearly can help employee health, but too often, EHS professionals don’t concentrate on the health of employees is this manner. And I often wonder why not?

Check Out: Corporate Volunteering Leads to Engaged Employees

Even looking beyond EAP, many workplaces have Employee Wellness Programs, which are often tied to health  insurance, and have direct incentives to improving employee health, but far too few EHS professionals can talk about these program, and even fewer champion them.

Now let’s consider, what these sort of programs can offer:

  • Wellness Screenings
  • Life Coaching Sessions
  • Wellness Challenges
  • Ergonomic Services
  • Movement efficiency testing – pre and post employment
  • Post-offer employment testing
  • Early intervention programs
  • Physical and occupational therapy

These are great resources, and are something that as EHS professionals, we should be touting, but too often they are overlooked, not talked about, or not even realized they are available.

In fact many corporate wellness programs are a once a year thing to talk about, which means that essentially the program is a failure. Or worse, the company wellness program is just an afterthought, something listed in a benefits guide, an never talked about.

There are many resources talking about the failures of corporate wellness programs, I would like to highlight a list I found of the failings, so we can talk about it a bit more.

14 Reasons Many Corporate Health and Wellness Programs Fail

  1. Activity vs Results Oriented Wellness Efforts
  2. Overly Complicated Programming. Simpler is Always Better for your Corporate Health and Wellness Program
  3. Incentives That Use Sticks Rather Than Carrots
  4. Use Eisting Staff to Design and Run the Corporate Health and Wellness Program
  5. Poor Leadership Support
  6. Fail to Create a Health Promoting Culture and Environment
  7. Incentivizing the Wrong Things
  8. Expect a Static Wellness Portal to Be a Wellness Program
  9. Poor Communications within your Corporate Health and Wellness Program
  10. Don’t Include Spouses and Significant Others
  11. Don’t Have a Functioning Wellness Committee
  12. Keep the Corporate Health and Wellness Program in a Silo.
  13. Treat the Wellness Program as a Perk, Not a Benefit
  14. Poor Program Marketing

So reason 14, Poor Program Marketing, is something a department focused on employee HEALTH should own, or at least support. Sure, some may say “our liability ends at the door”, but that isn’t a basic fact. Employees bring their health to work, if they have poor health, or undo stress, it can impact their work, it can cause distractions, it can cause attendance issues. All of which does impact the workplace.

 

I believe more EHS departments need to focus on the H a bit more, especially in the world today.

What do you think?

Successfully Persuade People That Workplace Injuries Are Preventable

Before you try and introduce the concept of a zero injury workplace, you will need to spend some time putting some thought and planning into the possible obstacles you will face. Think about the people who are going to be affected by a different safety regime and identify the people who are likely to resist the change. What sort of things will they say based on their understanding of safety and workplace incidents? At this stage it may pay to check up on their beliefs so that you can formulate a plan to handle any resistance that they may put up. It is much better to spend the time now before you act because if you plan now, you will find the introduction of the safety concept much easier.

“I Have Always Done it That Way”

In most work groups you will find a veteran worker who has been with the organization for some time and commands a certain degree of influence over the others. They often have very fixed ideas and require some work to open up their minds to change. These people are best dealt with as individuals before you have any group meetings. If you can persuade these people they will be on your side and support your safety initiative. If you fail to do this, they will prove to be very disruptive and influential in making the transition difficult.

The best way of introducing the concept to these individuals is to get agreement first of all that the objective of a safer workplace is beneficial to everyone. This may take a little while but it is very important to the success of the change. Start a dialogue with them and get their agreement that it would be a good initiative and that it was possible. This may reveal the first hurdle to overcome. Many people believe that accidents happen and have never thought through the process of discovering the causes. As a result, they are generally pretty convinced that you can’t prevent injuries.

Prior to the conversation or conversations, plan your strategy, build up your case and work out how you are going to present the information. You can gently take them through the process of a workplace incident and point out the causes that would normally include unsafe behavior and unsafe conditions. This will enable you to focus on causes and the human factor. A recent workplace accident that they are familiar with will make it relevant to their workplace and have considerably more influence over them.

As you gradually get your points across you will still meet a little resistance. Frequently, the person may use the example of someone being struck by lightning as not being preventable. At this point you can agree with them but also remind them that it is an extremely rare event and it normally doesn’t happen at work.

Emphasize the prevention aspects of safety because all employers have a duty to keep them as safe as possible and reduce harm. Explain to the veteran employee that they have a lot of influence and you would like them to direct it to helping to prevent incidents and injuries in the workplace.

Check Out: Ignoring Workplace Safety

Arguments for “Accidents will happen”

There are some compelling arguments against the philosophy that all accidents are preventable, which must be considered when trying to change a safety culture. Here are five examples:

  • Argument #1 – How can an accident be preventable if it is unforeseeable?
  • Argument #2 – How can you prevent an accident if it was caused by nothing more than a random equipment failure or PPE failure?
  • Argument #3 – How can you prevent an accident that was precipitated by an act of nature?
  • Argument #4 – How can you prevent an accident that was due to an act of sabotage or terrorism?
  • Argument #5 – How can you remove the law of chance which dictates that sooner or later, every imperfect person will have a careless moment or be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

While these arguments may sound compelling, it may be hasty to accept them at face value.  With the first argument, for instance, it does not hold up when you consider that even a lack of foresight can be prevented. Would the foresight not be improved by greater experience, better training, a more effective job safety analysis, manufacturer’s data or historical records of similar incidences? And foresight is greatly improved when workers are taught, not to only do a JSA at the beginning of the job, but to continuously risk assess their every move during the job.

Root cause is not random: With the second argument, even what appears to be a random failure can be traced back to a root cause that drives you back to how it could have been prevented. Could the failure not be prevented by better design, better operational practices, better maintenance or better monitoring?

Check Out what I offer on root causes here and also on Amazon

Acts of nature are not accidents: With the third argument, an act of nature should not fall into the category of accidents, but into the category referred to by lawyers as “Acts of God.” In other words, while these are not preventable, neither are they accidents. Having said that, many “Acts of God” do follow a pattern, such as the weather, and many can be detected beforehand such as earthquakes and volcanoes, giving us the ability to prevent even many “Acts of God” mishaps.

Don’t confuse safety with security: With the fourth argument, sabotage and terrorism are not accidents, but injuries or near misses that were intentional and planned. Those are not safety issues, but rather security issues.

Reduce the odds: The fifth argument is perhaps my favorite. I think we sometimes treat “chance” as an entity that is capable of exerting force or influence. If we are referring to mathematical probability, this is a different story and serves only to prove our point that it is possible to prevent all accidents.

Like any well-constructed building, employees need sturdy pillars of support in order to become active, dedicated participants in the creation of a safe workplace. The four main pillars are:

  • Education: No matter the type of company or operation, education is the primary tool for increasing the safety knowledge of employees. Employers should make a strong commitment to providing primary and continuing safety education that keeps their employees up to date and fully informed about the latest advances and the most current expert thinking. Team building exercises can be added to educational opportunities to encourage a collective spirit.
  • Communication: The free and continuous flow of information between management and employees is critical to building trust, promoting awareness, preventing and addressing problems and furthering education. Encourage the early communication of potential hazards and remediation options without fear of disciplinary action.
  • Recognition: Positive feedback and recognition for safe behavior and safety program contributions will encourage proactive safety thinking that moves beyond a focus on baseline requirements. Acknowledge and address mistakes, but keep the primary focus on achievements or opportunities for doing better next time.
  • Checks and Balances: To maintain integrity and optimize results, a system of checks and balances that includes both internal and external regulations and guidelines must be clearly outlined and understood by all. Some of these checks and balances include safety policies and procedures; safe operating practices; and federal, state and local regulations.

In addition to working consistently to strengthen the four pillars, other guiding philosophies may be utilized to promote a safety culture that supports a strong employee foundation:

  • Do not automatically blame individuals for near misses and mistakes. Instead, look for systemic causes.
  • Take pride in publicly promoting a great safety record and pointing to employee safety innovations and achievements.
  • Build safety into daily processes. Make safety a way of life.
Check Out: Near Miss Program

Why Employees Take Risks

If you want employees to make real changes, you need to connect with their current perspective and understand why they take risks on the job. Understanding the current problems that keep workers from being as safe as they could be lets you know the underlying values and assumptions you need to reshape to effectively change the culture. Here are just a few of the common reasons why your employees may be risking their safety:

  • They don’t believe safety measures are important to their superiors.
  • They feel invincible after having done a task so many times without incident.
  • They assume cutting a safety corner here or there won’t be enough to get them hurt.
  • They are in a hurry and believe speed is more important than safety.
  • They are unaware of hazards because they lack proper training.

Starting with employees’ motivations for taking risks or their lack of motivation for committing to safe work practices is critical if you want to make lasting changes. Underlying beliefs and values are what make up a culture, so to change the culture, you must shift these beliefs and values.

 

Eight tips for motivating employees to work safely.

These tips aren’t about strong-arming employees. They are all ways to get employees engaged with the safety culture, so they’re eager to embrace positive change.

1. Identify Safety Hazards: Before you dive into the work of raising your organization’s standards for safety, take some time to establish what hazards present the most significant risks to your company. Safety hazards differ from industry to industry, from company to company and facility to facility, so make sure you look beyond the common hazards to see what may present a risk at your business.

Check Out: PPE Hazard Assessment and Certification

OSHA provides six actionable steps to help you successfully identify and assess problem areas present at your business. If you feel overwhelmed or don’t know where to start, these steps can help direct you as you note all safety and health hazards. If you encounter safety issues you can remedy right away, be proactive in fixing them. However, most problems you discover will likely be unavoidable risks that come with the work you do. Take careful note of the trouble spots you identify, and ask employees to contribute their observations about workplace hazards.

2. Emphasize the Big Picture: When you start to work with your employees to change the workplace culture, make sure you don’t limit your focus to specific hazards or to rules and regulations. These specifics are undoubtedly critical, but you want to make sure you frame them within a broader picture of your company’s overall goals for improving safety.

Share your vision for an improved safety culture with your employees and let them know this is why you plan to emphasize new safety strategies. If employees don’t understand the why behind training or other objectives, they’re less likely to be supportive and engage. If you have a specific goal in mind for how many work-related injuries or illnesses you want to eliminate, for instance, share this goal with employees so they can rally around it.

3. Share Real-Life Examples: One of the best tips to motivating employees to work safely is to provide real-life examples. It’s OK to share stories of fatal or severe injuries or illnesses that resulted from unsafe practices. However, your overall strategy shouldn’t be to scare your employees into submission or to deride them for their current shortcomings. Rather than focus on negative examples, try highlighting success stories.

You may need to pull these success stories from other companies, and that’s completely fine. Try to find concrete examples that show demonstrable results from a concentrated effort to improve safety. How many accidents was the company able to eliminate on average? Real-life examples and success stories, in particular, can help inspire your employees and remind them positive change is always within reach.

4. Involve Employees and Reward Their Efforts: A great way to get buy-in from your employees is to involve them in your efforts to improve your company’s safety culture. Ask them for ideas as you plan. You can also create focus groups of employees at various levels and areas of your organization to get more in-depth perspectives on why they take risks and what’s lacking in your current safety culture.

Check Out: How to Set Goals for Safety Performance

Another way to engage employees is with positive reinforcement. When you see employees taking positive steps to adopt better safety practices, or when you overhear an authentic conversation about safety, find ways to reward their efforts. The simplest and perhaps most effective way is through verbal praise. Let them know how much you appreciate them doing their part to elevate the safety culture across your organization.

5. Lead by Example: To change the culture among your employees, you and the rest of senior and mid-level management must demonstrate the values and beliefs you want your employees to adopt. If you don’t have buy-in from management, you can’t expect your company’s safety culture to improve. It starts at the top and should trickle down from there. You want positive safety practices to become contagious and catch on across all areas and levels of your organization.

As we saw earlier, one of the reasons employees cut corners when it comes to safety is because they don’t believe it’s a priority for their superiors. They may feel getting the job done quickly is more important, for example. Make sure your employees know safety takes precedence over speed or anything else. You can put your money where your mouth is by investing in things like safety training programs, better personal protective equipment or more eye-catching signage.

6. Investigate Safety Incidents More Thoroughly: If a safety incident occurs, you should investigate it thoroughly to get to the bottom of what caused the problem. Examining issues in-depth may reveal underlying problems you can remedy. For example, you may find workers should have more protection when working in a specific area, or you may discover you need to fix a tripping hazard on the floor. In addition to committing to more detailed investigations of safety incidents, you should also commit to taking employee feedback about safety more seriously.

Learn more about Incident Investigation

Ask employees to submit reports of any safety hazards they encounter and to be forthcoming about accidents that occur. When you receive reports of possible risks, even if you don’t agree, take time to investigate them and see if you can do anything to remedy them. Remember, employees who are working on the factory floor, in the lab or at the construction site may know more about the dangers they face daily than you do, so trust their input.

7. Choose the Best Training Courses: The first question for many organizations aiming to improve workplace safety is, “What training program should I use?” Before you devote all your focus to answering this question, remember even the best training course may fall on deaf ears if your employees don’t prioritize safety or don’t see the need for training. That’s why working to elevate the whole safety culture is so critical. That said, one concern you’ll likely have when it comes to a training course is the logistics of it all.

Check Out: How to Put Together a Workplace Safety Training Workshop

The idea of gathering all your employees into a room and hiring someone to conduct training may seem like a daunting task — especially if your employees are across multiple locations or work different schedules. Online training solves this problem, as each worker can do it at a time and place that’s convenient for them. Giving employees more autonomy over their required training may help them feel more in control, rather than feeling frustrated by a mandatory lecture series. Look for online workplace safety courses that offer a corporate discount.

8. Prioritize Ongoing Training: Training is essential, but bad habits can still take over when workers’ hyper-awareness of safety wears off. That’s why training can’t be a one-off occurrence. OSHA requires employers to make sure their workers receive annual health and safety training. Don’t view this requirement as a burden. If you do, so will your employees. Instead, embrace it as a much-needed opportunity to reaffirm your ongoing commitment to safety, to remind employees of safety practices and to update them on new developments.

Check Out: 10 Reasons Why Safety Training is often Ineffective

You may also want to encourage or even require employees who work in particular areas to complete specialized training that addresses the dangers of their work more specifically than your generalized training might. Online training is an excellent option here. For example, if some of your employees work in a confined space, they should take a course dedicated to safety in this environment. If they lift heavy objects, they should take a course on back injury prevention and safe lifting techniques.

At the end of the day, everyone wants to enjoy their job and stay injury-free. When it comes to attracting and retaining quality employees, employee safety and engagement matters. For companies facing high turnover and injury rates, emphasizing injury prevention through a sustained safety program can strengthen the safety culture as a whole and inevitably have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line.

 

how to write effective incident reports

Incident Report Writing Guide

Objectivity is vital when writing a report. A judge or investigator probably won’t dismiss the validity of a report if you’ve made a grammatical mistake. But if your report lacks objectivity, it may be viewed as a document full of opinion over facts.

Providing specific details is the key to writing an objective report.  When you arrive at a scene or conduct an interview, descriptive words immediately come to mind: suspicious, inebriated, aggressive, disoriented, and similar words.

But professional report writing practices require you to omit these categories and conclusions. You state only facts and details, leaving it to your reader to draw conclusions.

These requirements seem to defy common sense–but there are good reasons for them. Facts and details:

  • Facilitate follow-up investigations: Recording exactly what a witness or involved party says can be a huge help to anyone reading the report.
  • Prevent challenges: People can’t argue that you jumped to conclusions if you list the behaviors and actions that preceded the incident.
  • Avoid embarrassment: If you announce in a report a definitive list of actions based upon opinions and witness testimonies, a defense attorney or insurance reviewer might point out errors in your reasoning. Just state the fact: describe the scene(include pictures/video when possible), describe the incident exactly, describe any injuries.
Check Out: Ten Safety Tips at Work

Here’s a comparison of generalizations you should avoid and details you could use instead:

  • confused (Better: could not state location or details clearly)
  • afraid (Better: whispered the answers to my questions, hands were shaking)
  • reckless (Better: driving too fast for conditions, crossed into pedestrian walkpath)
  • careless(Better: sign posted for team lift, employee picked it up alone)

While you’re thinking about objectivity, it’s important to be aware of some myths about reports. Writing in third person instead of “I” does not guarantee objectivity. (If only it were that simple!)

Similar outdated expressions like “Victim 1” and “Witness 2” are equally useless. They create confusion and waste time, especially if you’re preparing for a court hearing six months after the incident occurred. Use real full names whenever possible.

What about objectionable language? Insensitive labels like “crazy,” “crippled,” and “lazy” don’t belong in a professional report, with one important exception: If you’re directly quoting an involved party or witness who used them. The same principle applies to obscenities and slang..

Following these guidelines testifies to your professionalism, and they can provide a valuable service to your companyn as well. Train yourself to observe, remember, and record exactly what you’ve seen and heard: That effort will pay off again and again in your criminal justice career.

 

Report Writing Checklist

1. Think about the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where, why. If you’re writing on paper, most of this information will go into your opening sentence. If you’re writing on a laptop or using a template, make sure you’ve filled in the spaces accurately and thoroughly.

2. Include full names and contact information for witnesses, victims, and suspects (if available). If you interview someone who may be important to the investigation, get a backup phone number, such as a relative, friend, or workplace. Many people change phone numbers frequently, and an alternative number can help solve a case.

Check Out: The Challenge of Employees to Report All Incidents

3. Include the results of each investigation you did: temperature measurements, distances, recreations, etc…. Omitting results is one of the most common mistakes that investigators make. Result: Confusion, wasted time, and sometimes a missed opportunity to solve or prosecute a case.

4. Start each sentence with a person, place, or thing UNLESS you have absolute confidence in your writing ability. Keeping sentences simple prevents a multitude of writing errors.

5. Avoid outdated report practices. Old-fashioned words like “above mentioned,” “ascertained,” and “respective” waste time and cause confusion when you’re preparing for a court hearing. For example, what did you mean when you said you “ascertained” something? A witness told you? You saw it? You came across a useful piece of evidence? Explain in detail.

6. Clearly state who did what (in other words, use active voice). Contrary to popular belief, passive voice doesn’t magically make you honest, objective, or professional. Those are qualities you have to commit to and work on. Passive voice can create confusion if several officers are working a scene: Six months later, in court, are you going to remember who did what at the scene?

7. Make sure the disposition part of your report is complete: If you found useful evidence at the scene, did you thoroughly cover the chain of custody? Did you describe injuries in detail? What was the outcome for victims and suspects?

8. Avoid generalizations and hunches, which can open you up to challenges in a courtroom later. Statements like “I knew Harris was lying” and “Johnson seemed nervous” don’t belong in a professional report. Stick to factual descriptions: “Harris told me they were heading to Porter City, but his wife told me they were going to Hicksville.” “Johnson’s hands were shaking, and he looked over his shoulder 10 times in less than five minutes.”

9. Avoid slang and insensitive language unless you’re quoting someone’s exact words. Sexist language, vulgarities, and other unprofessional terminology can embarrass you if a district attorney, newspaper reporter, judge, or community leader reads your report.